England’s 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign came to a sudden end as they were defeated 2-1 by Didier Deschamps’ France in Qatar.
Oliver Giroud bagged the winner in a tense, even game that showcased the best of both teams. Though Kylian Mbappe was quiet, his compatriot Antoine Greizmann pulled the strings by grabbing two assists. Aurelien Tchouameni tucked home a smart strike early on, yet this was the only notable thing Les Bleus managed in the first half.
The reigning champions came out on top in score only, however, as they were the much-inferior team for the lion’s share of the game. Centre-backs Raphael Varane and Dayot Upamecano had a torrid game against Southgate’s lions, and had to resort to last-minute fouls to stop the English from scoring.
What Could Have Been
Shades of the Euro 2004 clash flashed before my eyes as the French took home an undeserved 2-1 victory. In the game 18 years ago, David Beckham missed a penalty, much like Harry Kane, who set his spot-kick so far over the bar it almost reached orbit.
Whilst I have to commend France for their victory, I can’t help but think what could have been. By far the best team at the tournament, England leave the 2022 World Cup as unapologetic martyrs. In the face of arguably the world’s best team, the Three Lions refused to compromise their style and play into France’s hands, instead, we gave it our all, and, sadly, the worse team won on this occasion.
Captain Harry Kane looked pensive upon full-time as the Tottenham striker knew his penalty miss was the reason why extra-time wasn’t a possibility. With stars like Jack Grealish, James Maddison, and Trent Alexander-Arnold waiting, it’s likely the French would have crumbled as the game went on.
A World Cup Of Shocks
I take nothing away from the effort of the team, however. Though a quarter-final exit is heartbreakingly early, let’s not forget that Qatar 2022 seems to be the World Cup of shocks. Portugal, Brazil, Spain, and Germany have all exited, whilst Croatia and Morocco are in the final four. Perhaps it just wasn’t meant to be for England this year, though I still consider them the rightful winners.
The good news is that by the 2026 World Cup, the crop of players we currently have will still be young and at the top of their game. Notably, the next World Cup will coincide with the 60th anniversary of England’s sole major trophy win - is it fate? I think so.
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